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Poaching - creating awareness / donations advice

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Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:40 pm Unread post
:big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes:

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Vets charged for illegal use of tranquillisers
FIONA MACLEOD | JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - Mar 02 2012 00:00

Three veterinarians, including the Kruger National Park's former head of game capture, Douw Grobler, appeared in court this week on charges relating to the illegal use of a tranquillising drug favoured by rhino poachers.

Their appearance coincided with a furore about another vet who gave 26 bottles of the tranquilliser M99 to a game-capture outfit in Limpopo. With a strength of up to 3 000 times of that of morphine, the unauthorised consignment of M99 had the potential to knock out about 390 rhinos.

As the number of rhinos killed in 2012 climbed to more than 80 this week, at least 43 of them in the Kruger, watchdogs called for a clampdown on unethical members of the veterinary and private wildlife industry who are fuelling the poaching crisis.

Tom Milliken, Southern Africa director of Traffic, an international wildlife trade monitoring group, said individuals in the private game industry were conducting a "guerrilla warfare" that had a corrupting influence on public officials at reserves such as the Kruger.

"Poachers and Asian nationals involved in the illegal rhino trade are starting to get meaty court sentences," he said. "Only when we see the high-profile white guys in the game industry end up with similar penalties will they realise it's not worthwhile getting involved."

Sarah Pappin, a representative of the United States-based non-governmental organisation, Saving Rhinos, said research showed that only 5% of the 397 rhino-related arrests made in South Africa between 2010 and 2011 were "white guys" in the game industry.

"Since 2006 29 white guys have been arrested in connection with rhino crimes. Only two were sentenced to jail time, more than 93% were granted bail, 17% were repeat offenders and more than 20% worked in the veterinary field," Pappin said.

Grobler appeared on Tuesday in the Pretoria North Magistrate's Court with Johannes Gerhardus Kruger, a private vet, and Buti Chibase, a state vet from Klerksdorp. They appeared with professional hunter and game farmer Hugo Ras and four others — Matthys Christoffel Scheepers, Riaal Booysen, Johan Carl Heydenrych and Christoffel Francois Naudé — whose details were not given.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said they were granted bail of between R1 000 and R5 000 each on provisional charges of contravening the Medicines and Related Substances Act and would appear in court again on April 3.

Grobler was arrested in November in connection with the possession and distribution of scheduled veterinary medicines. Five crates of medicines were confiscated during a police raid on Ras's home, which led to his arrest.

During his tenure as head of the Kruger's game capture unit, Grobler made an international name for himself on large-scale wildlife relocation programmes that included elephants and rhinos. He was fired in 2001 for the unauthorised sale of animals from the park's disease-free buffalo breeding project.

Vets infuriated at the abuse of M99 leaked documents earlier this month about the unauthorised distribution of 26 bottles by Boksburg vet Johan Hendrik Meyer. A single drop -- 0.1mg -- of veterinary-strength M99, also called etorphine, can be fatal to humans. It can be bought only by vets, who have to keep it under lock and key and maintain a register of its use for inspection. A single bottle containing 10ml can sedate as many as 15 rhinos.

The potent drug has been used in numerous rhino-poaching incidents in recent years, particularly on private property, because it allows poachers to drop the animals without the noise of a gun. They then either kill the rhino before removing its horn, or leave it to wake up with a gaping hole in its face.

Meyer was found guilty of unprofessional conduct by the South African Veterinary Council and fined R25 000. He was also given a six-month suspension, set aside for 10 years on condition that he is not found guilty of a similar transgression.

The sentence caused a huge row among wildlife vets. Some described it as a "slap on the wrist" and accused the council of "failing the profession badly by not dealing with the problem".

Lynette Havinga, acting registrar of the council, refused to be drawn into the row this week. She also could not say how many complaints the council had received about the abuse of M99 and other game-capture tranquillisers in the past year.

If vets are caught illegally distributing scheduled veterinary drugs such as M99, she said, "the council will act upon a guilt finding in the normal courts of law, will obtain the details of the court proceedings and will then hold its own investigation according to the required procedures in terms of the Veterinary and Para-veterinary Professions Act".

Four South African National Parks officials arrested this week in connection with rhino poaching appear to have used silenced rifles rather than M99, investigators said.
The four -- a ranger, two field guides and a traffic officer -- were arrested on Tuesday after two freshly killed rhino carcasses were found in the Pretoriuskop section of the Kruger, an area where at least 11 rhinos have been killed since the beginning of the year.

Milliken said the arrests could prove to be an important breakthrough. "It is good that internal complicity in the poaching is getting exposed. It makes one wonder how many incidents in the past were influenced by similar internal factors," he said.

Slaughter despite assurances
According to South African National Parks (SANParks), one of the field guides arrested this week took part in a month-long strike by 248 rangers in the Kruger National Park.

At least eight rhinos have died in the park since the strike started, despite assurances by the park's management at the start of the dispute on February 3 that ­soldiers and honorary rangers would ­prevent poaching.

A meeting was scheduled for this week between SANParks, representatives of the strikers and one of the main unions, the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa, in an attempt to end the strike.

The strikers were demanding equal salaries across the board for employees in similar ­positions. Some staff members in Mapungubwe National Park joined the Kruger employees in the strike this week.

Strikers' representative Richard Ndlovu said some general field rangers were earning R26 000 a year, whereas others were earning R120 000. Rangers who had been working in the Kruger for decades were earning less than newcomers. They were also unhappy with the danger pay of about R200 a month and a "sleeping allowance" of R25 a night when rangers slept in the veld during anti-poaching operations.

Park spokesperson William Mabasa accused Ndlovu of "mixing things up".

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address: http://mg.co.za/article/2012-03-02-vets ... quillisers
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Re: Poaching - creating awareness / donations advice

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Thu Mar 08, 2012 4:31 pm Unread post
From EWN:

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Case against 'ivory smugglers' postponed
Graeme Raubenheimer | 2 Hour(s) Ago

The case against two Chinese nationals accused of the illegal possession of ivory was postponed on Thursday.

The men appeared briefly in the Khayelitsha Regional Court.

One was granted R70,000 bail, while his co-accused would remain behind bars at Pollsmoor Prison.

The men's lawyer William Booth said the delays were frustrating, but understandable.

“The matter has been postponed again until 30 March. The prosecutor from the Director of Prosecutions office was not available today. She’s involved in a trial in Knysna,” he said.

The Hawks arrested the two men in 2011 at a flat in Table View, where they also found elephant tusks and some ornamental.

(Edited by Lindiwe Mlandu)


Re: Poaching - creating awareness / donations advice

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Sat Mar 10, 2012 2:05 pm Unread post
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SANParks Honorary Rangers: Statement on poaching

As nature lovers we are all concerned about the current rhino poaching crisis. We all share a level of frustration in seeing that, despite valiant efforts being made, the rhino poaching numbers keep on rising.

We are also aware that there are many people and organisations contributing significantly towards the effort of stopping this scourge. We applaud all those who are making a positive contribution in this war against poaching and we are encouraged by many people and organisations taking hands and working together to combat this.

It appears that there are many unscrupulous people who see this as an opportunity to advance their own agenda or gain financially at the cost of our rhinos and the unsuspecting public. Sadly, this is true of both people tasked with looking after these animals who turn to crime, as well as people raising funds and support in the name of counter poaching activities. This causes suspicion and uncertainty. We applaud each and every instance where these people are identified, exposed and prosecuted. We also encourage members of the public to be very circumspect with regard to whom they support.

More than half of the world rhino population call the South African National Parks their home. As such there is incredible pressure on SANParks to effectively look after these animals. We as SANParks Honorary Rangers are dedicated to assist SANParks in this effort. As with any organisation, SANParks is not perfect and from time to time some individuals within the organisation may become corrupted and complicit in poaching activities. But we have complete trust in the SANParks Board, its senior management and staff on all levels to face this challenge, route out criminals and protect our rhinos. SANParks have shown that they are not hesitant when they have to implement counter poaching measures and bring poaching culprits to book.

The SANParks Honorary Rangers is a volunteer organisation, run by a group of dedicated unpaid volunteers and therefore we are in the fortunate position that we do not need to raise funds for our own administrative needs out of counter poaching donations received. As such all funds raised for counter poaching is used to make a difference in SANParks’ counter poaching effort.

Due to our close working relationship with SANParks at all levels we are in a position to identify the key areas where the funds raised can make the biggest difference in the counter poaching effort. We are in constant contact with top management and the key role players on the ground in our parks, where we are able to address the real needs and make a real difference. All the items we buy are approved through an official wish list system by senior management, to ensure that money does not get wasted on unimportant items.

The SANParks Honorary Rangers is financially independent from SANParks. We do not transfer funds to SANParks to fund items. When we raise funds, we also manage the procurement process of the items. The items are then donated to SANParks and become part of the SANParks asset register.

We are a registered Public Benefit and Non-Profit Organisation. Our books are audited annually and are available for public inspection. In fact our financial contribution and reports are included as part of the annual SANParks report which is presented to parliament.

We have made several donations towards the SANParks counter poaching effort and do so on a continual basis. This includes donations such as R1.75 million to equip the Kruger National Park field rangers for counter insurgency patrols provided by our Conservation Services unit, the GPS and back packs the Virtual HR region has recently provided, the donation of two and support for three bantam aircraft used in KNP and Mokala National Park donated by our West Rand and Johannesburg regions, the donation of and support for three boats used in counter poaching activities in Kruger National Park and Richtersveld, the training of field rangers, collaring of rhino with GPS collars, sponsoring the RHoDIS program at the DNA laboratories at Onderstepoort and many other smaller donations.

Currently SANParks Honorary Rangers are going an extra mile by assisting with counter poaching patrols in Kruger National Park, while some field rangers are involved in industrial action. In the coming week we will announce several more major donations which are being finalised.

We invite the public to support us in this effort by donating to the counter poaching cause. There are many plans afoot to increase the effectiveness of counter poaching activities; due to the sensitivity of these measures these cannot be disclosed. For this we will need further support from the public. The SANParks Honorary Rangers is the vehicle through which the public can contribute to the SANParks counter poaching effort, and help protect the core rhino population.

We encourage all citizens and all concerned people to keep up the pressure and to clearly send out the message that poaching in all its forms is not acceptable. It is a criminal and barbaric action which cannot be tolerated in a proud country such as South Africa.

Issued by:

Louis Lemmer
National Executive Committee: Public Relations & Communication
SANParks Honorary Rangers


Re: Poaching - creating awareness / donations advice

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Sun Apr 08, 2012 9:02 pm Unread post
Business day

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SA slowly gaining ground in war against poaching
Rhino poachers are now the hunted, writes Sue Blaine
SUE BLAINE
Published: 2012/04/05 07:07:47 AM

IT IS a war in which SA lost 1145 rhinos in the past three and a bit years, and South African National Parks (SANParks) environmental crime investigation unit head Ken Maggs is not about to let the crime syndicates win. Rhino poaching has escalated since 2008, when SA introduced new trade controls and hunting regulations that reduced the number of legal hunting permits awarded to Vietnamese nationals at a time when affluence was increasing in East Asia.

The estimated price per kilogram for rhino horn is $60000.

From an average of 15 animals poached in the years before 2008, poaching has increased to 448 last year and could hit 600 this year, say experts. If this goes on, the species could go into decline from 2016, and could become extinct in the wild by 2050, according to SANParks wildlife veterinary services head Markus Hofmeyr.

Not if Mr Maggs can help it. "We can match them. We are well-equipped and well-armed. A great deal of effort has gone into training (SANParks’ special antipoaching operatives). We will succeed — there is no option. There are enough people who are dedicated. I believe we will prevail," says the veteran who has worked for SANParks for 27 years.

If it’s a war, the 2-million hectare Kruger National Park is the frontline. The park is home to most of SA’s estimated 20700 rhinos and shares a 300km border with Mozambique, from where most poachers hail.

While the poachers appear to have the upper hand, for now, SANParks is gaining ground. Arrests are up, with 21 of the 90 alleged poachers arrested in SA this year caught in the park. SA has lost 159 rhinos to poachers this year, 95 of them in the park.

Gun shots clap like thunder across the veld. It’s a simulated skirmish between SANParks’ most formidable antipoaching "weapon" — a special operations team — and poachers. The camouflage-clad group of four men armed with rifles, radios, a satellite phone, torches and a searchlight approach. Just one of the kitbags the men carry is worth about R250000, says team leader Bruce Leslie. "It’s the small things that count," he says, holding up a pair of black gloves, "Like these. There are scorpions out there, thorns."

Men like Mr Leslie and his team are deployed across SANParks’ reserves, spending seven to 10 days in the veld hunting the hunters.

Once a poacher is arrested, he is tied up with cable ties, read his rights and the police are called in. SANParks has teamed up with the police, the National Prosecuting Authority, the South African Revenue Service and others to combat rhino poaching.

This year has seen about 90 arrests, and the sentences South African courts are imposing are tougher, including two life sentences. There have been about 30 convictions this year. "We are not going to stop. We will arrest people in possession of rhino horn," says police spokesman Vish Naidoo.

SA is negotiating with land-owners on the Mozambican side of the border in the south of the park, where the transfrontier park does not reach to create a "buffer zone", to quell poaching. No one expects it to be a panacea.

"The most heavily-fortified border I have ever seen is the US-Mexican border … and they still have 500000 breaches a year," says SANParks CEO David Mabunda.

It is, however, expected to help considerably — 27 rhino were lost to poachers in the north of the park, where the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park acts as a buffer zone last year, and 191 in the south.

A treaty allowing the buffer zone has already been signed with Mozambique. Once in place, the treaty will also allow South African officials to pursue poachers across the border, instead of having to hand over pursuit at the fence.

Meanwhile, under the early autumn moonlight, Mr Leslie grins when asked if he is ever afraid while out in the bush. "I wouldn’t say afraid, I would say very afraid," he says. "You know you might not come home, and it’s not only them (poachers), we’ve had one person gored by a rhino. In the day you have to worry about black mambas, in the night, spitting cobras."

"If you want trouble in Kruger, you can find it in half an hour. This place will bite you hard," chips in Mr Maggs.

It’s a war Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa insists SA will win. "I feel very optimistic," she says.


Re: Poaching - creating awareness / donations advice

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Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:42 pm Unread post
Unite Against Poaching awarded Kudu Conservation award

Image

Unite Against Poaching has been awarded a prestigious Kudu Award by South African National Parks for valuable support in the counter poaching effort. Unite Against Poaching is a combined effort between the SANParks Honorary Rangers and Unitrans Volkswagen to equip and train the counter poaching teams in our national parks.

Unitrans Volkswagen was acknowledged for providing valuable funding by donating an amount of money for each Volkswagen vehicle sold via their dealerships. This effort has seen more than R5 million in support during the first year of the project. This money was used to amongst others provide camouflage and navigation equipment, rangers training and establish a tracking dog unit.

The SANParks Honorary Rangers is a non-profit and volunteer run organisation working closely with SANParks rangers to identify the needs of the counter poaching teams and provide the necessary support. The Honorary Rangers guarantee that funds raised is used effectively and without any waste. Every sent raised goes to conservation support there where it will have the biggest impact.

The public is invited to support the Unite Against Poaching effort by donating or buying their next vehicle from a Unitrans Volkswagen dealership. Visit http://www.sanparkshr.org.

Issued by:
Louis Lemmer
SANParks Honorary Rangers
National Executive Committee: Public Relations & Communication
louis.lemmer@telkomsa.net
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